The 193-member United Nations (UN) will gather in New York this week for the annual General Assembly meeting of diplomats and world leaders.
This year, the UN will welcome US president Donald Trump to the prestigious event for the first time.
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Verdict takes a look at what we can expect to be discussed at the 72nd UN General Assembly, which takes place from 19 to 25 September.
The nuclear threat from North Korea
North Korea has repeatedly defied UN Security Council resolutions outlawing the country’s ballistic missile tests.
Just four days after tougher sanctions were brought in to constrain North Korea, the country fired a ballistic missile across Japan.
It flew higher and further than previous ones.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said last week that his country would “never tolerate” such “dangerous provocative action,” while Trump has vowed a “fire and fury” response if North Korea threatens the US.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said:
The president [Trump] has been very clear that he views this threat of North Korea as ever growing.
How to handle North Korea’s actions will be a key theme of this year’s meeting.
Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar
Close to 400,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Myanmar to bordering Bangladesh in recent weeks.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said that the treatment of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to “textbook ethnic cleansing”.
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All eyes will be on leaders at the UN General Assembly to come up with a response to the worsening crisis in the region.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said:
The horrific situation in Myanmar is exactly why we need more than just a sticking-plaster approach to helping those fleeing war and persecution. After being subjected to horrific violence, including killings and having their villages burned to the ground, these Rohingya refugees are now facing a humanitarian crisis as Bangladesh struggles to support them.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) echoed Amnesty’s call to action.
The United Nations Security Council and concerned countries should impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Burmese military to end its ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not be in attendance at this year’s summit.
A government spokesman, Aung Shin, told Reuters that Suu Kyi’s absence did not stem from fear.
She is “never afraid of facing criticism or confronting problems,” he said.
Trump’s America First agenda
“The United Nations has not reached its full potential,” Trump said in his opening remarks to the UN General Assembly on Monday morning.
He called on the UN to cut bureaucratic red tape and told member states to “champion truly bold reforms”.
During his US presidential campaign, Trump referred to the UN as both weak and incompetent.
The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 26 December 2016
He has also proposed drastic cuts in voluntary contributions from the US to the UN.
Since taking office, Trump’s key policy objectives — from curbing immigration to withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change agreement have gone against positions advocated by the UN.
A meeting of minds on climate change?
With droughts, floods and hurricanes becoming increasingly common, the General Assembly will discuss global efforts to tackle climate change.
Despite Trump’s executive order to remove the US from the Paris climate accord, Tillerson said that the US would remain committed to the agreement “under the right conditions.”
He told CBS:
The president said he is open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.
The UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres hailed climate change as an important area of discussion. He told reporters:
Climate change is a serious threat. Hurricanes and floods around the world remind us that extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and severe, due to climate change.
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